Feeling Gratitude by Jeanette Isenberg

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”— Leonard Bernstein

This quote was said by Alan Silow, the President and CEO of the Santa Rosa Symphony, before each of the three concerts played in our first classic set which just ended on Monday, November 5th. Aside from whatever might have been happening in our personal lives there were many things were transpiring in our world: the pending elections, the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and soon after news of the mass shootings in Thousand Oaks and the Camp and Woolsey fires that have devastated thousands of acres and lives in Northern and Southern California.

Today I am sitting at my desk in Petaluma breathing in the smell of smoke and looking out at what could be mistaken for a dystopian landscape in a Sci-Fi novel due to the smoke from the CAMP fire in Butte County and I am reminded of one year ago when my county was on fire. The Santa Rosa Symphony along with donations of time and space from Weill Hall and our conductors, raised over $115,000.00 for fire relief. The orchestra gave free season tickets to folks who had lost their homes and to first responders. We got new instruments to students who had lost theirs in the fire. The human response was great and yet out of over 5,000 homes destroyed only 50 have been rebuilt as of the end of October 2018.

My emotions are running wild and my energy is low. I ask myself how people keep going when bad news just never seems to stop. It helps me to write a list of what I am grateful for up here in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties – may you also find things in your day that are the small appreciations that keep the world ticking in a positive mode.

My Gratitude List

  • The many teachers and mentors which helped me learn to play music.
  • The fact that I get to make a living playing music; that I have work in which I get to share my music with others.
  • Belonging to a union which stands up for good working conditions and fights for fair wages.
  • The Teamsters Local 665, who are really stepping up: brought in trailers full of free useful items after the fires, so working men and women could get back to work. They also held a job fair in Santa Rosa so folks could apply for available, good paying union work.
  • My community of interesting, funny, irreverent, smart, dedicated, compassionate and disciplined musicians with whom I get to work.
  • The fact that we live in a country where we can be irreverent and express our beliefs and feelings – where there is rule of law and organizations and institutions that exist to protect us.
  • North Bay Jobs with Justice who has established the “Alliance for a Just Recovery” which is a coalition of labor and community groups who are fighting to make sure that affordable housing and good wage jobs are part of the conversation as Sonoma County is rebuilt.
  • Brothers and sisters who are first responders for all the disasters and tragedies that we have had and will experience.
  • My students who show up for lessons prepared and excited about playing the violin.